Harmony of the Gospels

 -Tuesday-
Mount of Olives
(12-2) Jesus Tells of the Future
Matthew 24:1-3(Focal Passage), Mark 13:1-4, Luke 21:5-7

PART 2: Jesus Predicts The Destruction Of Jerusalem


Matthew 24:1-3

1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”


1 Then Jesus left the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.

Alternate Translation (NLT): Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.

As the Lord Jesus was leaving the temple area for the last time before His death, some of His disciples tried to arouse His enthusiasm concerning the magnificence of the temple and the surrounding architecture. Under Herod, the Temple had been reconstructed, enlarged, and beautified, so that many referred to it as Herod’s Temple. It was one of the wonders of the world; no cost was spared, no art left untried, to make it magnificent. Although it came short of Solomon’s temple, and it was small in the beginning, it was increased in size and beauty by this time. It was richly furnished with gifts and offerings, which were added to, almost daily. They showed Christ these things, and wanted him to take notice of them.

As they followed Jesus, they talked about the architectural triumphs involved in erecting the enormous structure. But, their interest in the attractive stones and buildings did not arise from aesthetic appreciation only. We can see here that many of Christ’s own disciples are apt to idolize things that look great, and at the same time are considered sacred. They had heard Christ complain of those who had made the temple a den of thieves; and yet, when he drove out the moneychangers and those who sold animals, they believed he was as much in love as they were with the stately structure and all the beautiful things adorning it.

That afternoon’s events included a significant statement the Lord made just prior to their exit from the Temple: “Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” Jesus words were prophetic, since by leaving the Temple, he not only went out of the temple; He left it, and then, immediately he made a prediction of its destruction. Note: That house (the Temple) and any other house is certainly left desolate, when Christ leaves. “Woe unto them when I depart” (Hos. 9:12; Jer. 6:8). Three days after this, the veil of the temple was torn in two. When Christ left it, everything in the Temple became common and unclean; but Christ did not depart until they drove him away; he did not reject them, until they first rejected him. It reminds us of Ezekiel’s description of the glory departing from the temple—“Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the Lord called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case. Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the door of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the Temple courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the city and stopped above the mountain to the east” (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4; 11:23—NLT). The cloud Shekinah glory (the presence of God) went from the Temple and stopped over the same spot where Jesus was headed after leaving the Temple.

When we speak of the temple, we should talk about the presence of God in it, and of the ordinances of God administered in it, and the communion that his people have there with him. It is unfortunate that when we speak of the church, that our conversation dwells upon its pageantry and ceremonies, and the important people who are its officers and pastors.

2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Alternate Translation (NLT): And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Christ again foretells of the utter ruin and destruction that was coming upon this place. The most beautiful bodies will shortly become worms’ meat, and the most beautiful building a pile of rubble. They wanted the Lord to admire the beauty of these buildings as much as they did, but instead of responding with an answer that would please them, He said, “Do you not see all these things?” They would like Jesus to look at the buildings, and be as much in love with them as they were; He wished they could see them as He did.

Note: We do not find in this passage that the Lord was moved with compassion for the Temple. He looks with pity upon the ruin of precious souls, and weeps over them, for on them he has put great value. However, we do not find him looking with any pity upon the ruin of this magnificent house, that He was driven from by sin, for a building is of little value to Him. He shows little concern when He says, “Not one stone shall be left on another!” Much of the strength of the temple lay in the largeness of the stones, and if these were torn down, there would be nothing left to remind someone that a magnificent building once stood upon at this location. While any part remained standing, there might be some hope that it could be repaired; but what hope is there, when not one stone is left upon another?

Now, Christ, instead of reversing the first decree, ratifies it; “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  The temple shall not only be stripped, and plundered, and defaced, but utterly demolished and laid waste; not one stone shall be left upon another. History tells us, that this judgment was executed seventy years later, when the Romans under Titus sacked Jerusalem. Titus, when he took the city in A.D. 70, tried unsuccessfully to save the temple, but his soldiers put it to the torch, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophecy. When the fire melted the gold trim, the molten metal ran down between the stones. To get at it, the soldiers had to remove the stones one by one, just as our Lord predicted.

Titus did all he could to preserve the temple, yet he could not restrain the enraged soldiers from destroying it. The destruction was so complete, that Turnus Rufus ploughed up the ground on which it had stood: thus that scripture was fulfilled—“Zion shall, for your sake, be ploughed as a field” (Mic. 3:12). And afterward, in Julian the Apostate’s time, when the Jews were encouraged by him to rebuild their temple, what remained of the ruins was removed to level the ground for a new foundation. However, the attempt failed, due to the miraculous eruption of fire out of the ground, which destroyed the foundation they laid, and frightened away the builders.

3 Now as He sat on the  Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Alternate Translation (NLT): Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, “When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?”

It is natural for us to want to know the future, and His disciples were no exception. They did not understand this new doctrine concerning the destruction of the Temple. They thought the Temple would be their Master’s royal palace, where they would be promoted to high positions within the kingdom. Therefore, they were anxious to get Jesus alone so they could get more out of him concerning this matter. Their first opportunity to talk to Him privately came after Jesus had crossed over to the Mount of Olives. Mark states in his gospel, “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately…” They asked Him three questions:
1. When would these things happen; that is, when would the temple be destroyed?
2. What would be the sign of His coming; that is, what supernatural event would precede His return to the earth to set up His kingdom?
3. What would be the sign of the end of the age; that is, what would announce the end of the age immediately prior to His glorious reign? (The second and third questions are essentially the same.)

We must remember that these Jewish disciples’ thinking revolved around the glorious age of the Messiah on earth. They were not thinking about Christ’s coming for the church; they knew little if anything about this phase of His coming. Their expectation was His coming in power and glory to destroy His enemies and rule over the world.

In addition, we should be clear that they were not talking about the end of the world, but the end of the age.

Your questions and comments are welcomed.

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